New international employment rights for seafarers captured by pirates

The introduction of new international employment rights for seafarers captured by pirates, comes into force on 26 December 2020. The amendment, comes during a resurgence of recently reported piracy incidents.


The new rights are set out in the 2018 amendments to the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). They ensure that a Seafarer Employment Agreement (SEA) will stay in place while a seafarer is held captive by pirates on or off the ship – even if the seafarer's contract expires or is terminated by the shipowner.

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This means that seafarers will continue to be paid their full wages while in captivity and receive any other entitlements due from the shipowner under the terms of their SEA, collective bargaining agreement or national law of the flag state. These entitlements could include holiday pay and pension contributions.

As a country which has ratified the MLC, the UK is committed to adopting the 2018 amendments into national law. 

This addition to the MLC will ensure that captured seafarers' families will be financially supported throughout the period of captivity, at a time when they will be suffering much stress and worry. 

Find out what the new amendment means for your business:

Download the Maritime Labour Convention Regulations 2020

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